*Habakkuk discussion day at the forum! Join us!
How on earth do you start a conversation about sex with an eight year old?
I don't know, I've never done it, but thankfully many others have. Here are some tips I have gathered (remember, these are just suggestions):
Make the up-coming talk something to look forward to...a special secret that is about to be divulged. A month before your child's eighth birthday start building the anticipation by telling them you have a very special secret to share with them about one of the most amazing and awesome things in the world. They will beg you to give them a hint. Tell them how excited you are to tell them all about it, but they just have to wait a little longer. As the day nears, keep the anticipation alive.
Plan A Special Day
Perhaps their eighth birthday? If you are going to use the "building the anticipation" strategy, tell them they may pick out a special restaurant to eat at that night where they will get to learn about the secret. If you are uncomfortable about a public setting, just make sure you pick a place where other siblings won't be around, especially younger ones. Remember, this is a very special occasion...share with one child at a time.
Mom and Dad Please
Both parents should sit down with their child to talk about sex, at least for the "mechanics" talk. You and your husband are a team and you both should be present to explain things. As the child begins puberty, on-going talks should be done mother to daughter, father to son.
Yes, The Whole Shebang
It may be helpful to use a book while explaining sex to your child (or at least having read one yourself to give you some confidence). One that I have been referred to is "Where Did I Come From." Apparently it's somewhat of a classic. Personally, I'm all about the God's Design For Sex Series (see bottom of post under resources).
"Emphasize that sex was God's idea, and that He created it to bring great joy to people who use the gift the way He intended - within marriage between a man and a woman. Understand that your children are sexual beings from the day they're born, and that the changes they go through during puberty as they mature are normal and positive changes. Help them accept and embrace the wonderful way God created them..." Whitney Hopler, How To Talk With Your Kids About Sex
There Will Be Questions
You may be at the restaurant all night! That's okay, plan on it. Answer your child's questions freely and honestly but keep in mind their innocence. Use discernment with your words. With this in mind, don't shy away from certain topics that deserve an answer. For example, if your child brings up something they've seen that's pornographic, discuss it with them lovingly, being careful not to divulge too much too soon, but letting them know that there is a good side and a bad side to sex. Pornography is showing sex in a light that isn't beautiful and awesome. I highly recommend the book Point Man for an excellent way to handle talking to your son about pornography.
Other Age Ranges For Discussions
Between the ages of 11 and 16 the facts have been put in place. It is now your job to help continue to encourage them in the truth and in pure behavior.
What If My Child Has Already Had Sex?
I really like the way the below author handles talking to a child who has already had sex:
(Parent talking to teen) "I've realized how much more I could have told you and discussed with you as you were growing up. If I'd done so, you wouldn't have had to learn as much as you have from friends or media or even from the sexual experience you've had. So first I'd like to apologize for not telling you more sooner. I love you, will you accept my apology?" How To Talk To Your Child About Sex
Ask then if you can take some time to go over the things you should have shared. This opens up a dialogue and the opportunity for you to bring it back to God. Love, grace, and forgiveness should be at the doorstep of your heart as you talk it through.
Sadly (and sickeningly) there are many children out there who are being sexually abused. It is vital that we do our very best to protect our children from abuse, and one way is to talk about "good touching" and "bad touching." Make sure your child knows that no one is allowed to touch them in their private places or have them touch others private places. Make sure they know that even if someone makes them feel uncomfortable in any way that can say, "please stop touching me." Practice with them. Tell them they have full permission to scream at the top of their lungs if they are ever scared or being hurt. Practice screaming inside and outside the house so they feel comfortable enough to do it if they have to.
If you find out that your child has been abused, it is so important that you handle your child (or teen) with great care. Child psychiatrists say that the next worst thing to child abuse is parents who don't handle the news well. Do not make them feel guilty or ashamed. Many parents say, "why didn't you tell me?" and guilt comes into play.
HOW CAN YOU KNOW IF YOUR CHILD IS ABUSED?
By Dannah Gresh (printed with consent)
Approximately 15-25% of adult women and 5-15% of adult men were sexually abused as children. It's a frightening reality. How can you know if your child is a victim? Watch for these signs.
First, watch for a sudden and unusual interest in sex or sexual things.
Second, consider that sleeping problems or nightmares that seem to stem from nowhere could be a symptom.
Third, an unusual fear of going to a certain house, school or class is sometimes a sign that something bad has happened in that place.
Fourth, children of abuse often attempt expressions of sexual molestation in artwork or play-acting. These things can be evidence that it's time for you to dig a little deeper to see if there is something your child desperately wants to tell you, but doesn't know how.
If you do find that there is abuse present, act quickly to get your child into the care of a trained counselor who can help you and your family make good decisions about what is the best course of action. Each child and each case is different, but all of them are tender and need meticulous attention to specific needs.
How To Talk To Your child About Sex, by Linda and Richard Eyre (contains dialogues)
The Story Of Me, (God's Design For Sex Series) by Brenna Jones (ages 3-5)
Before I Was Born, (God's Design For Sex Series) by Carolyn Nystrom (ages 5-8)
Facing The Facts, (God's Design For Sex Series) by Brenna Jones (ages 11-14)
Point Man, by Steve Farrar
How To Talk With Your Children About Sex, by Whitney Hopler (article)
A Chicken's Guide To Talking Turkey With Your Kids About Sex, by Dr. Kevin Leman and Kathy Flores Bell
Tomorrow we will talk about why God created sex (did you know there are six biblical reasons God created sex?).
(All the tips I've mentioned are just suggestions. Modify how you like!)
*I'm also over At The Well today
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